ABC wins night despite disappointing debut

Make no “Bones” about it: ABC’s new drama “The Deep End” may already be looking for a life preserver after one episode.

Thursday’s bow of the young-lawyers skein settled for a fourth-place finish in Thursday’s leadoff hour, as Fox’s “Bones” roughly doubled the newbie in demos while drawing its largest overall aud in three years. Night concluded, meanwhile, with big numbers for a couple of cable programs: MTV’s exiting “Jersey Shore” and USA’s returning “Burn Notice.”

According to national estimates from Nielsen that include same-night playback, “The Deep End” averaged a 1.8 rating/5 share in adults 18-49 and 7.11 million viewers from 8 to 9 p.m. — down about 35% from the “live plus same-day” demo average for “FlashForward” in the timeslot last fall (2.9/8). ABC is counting on “Deep End” to keep the timeslot warm until “Flash” returns in March, but it will likely need to improve to stay on the air until then.

Fox’s “Bones” took advantage of the lack of aud interest in the ABC drama, surging to a 3.5/10 in 18-49 and 11.97 million viewers overall, its best demo score in more than a year and its largest overall gathering since February 2007.

Also in the hour, special repeats of CBS Monday comedy “The Big Bang Theory” averaged a 2.1 demo rating and 8 p.m. and a 2.4 at 8:30 p.m., beating NBC’s firstrun tandem of “Community” (2.1/6, 4.75m) and “Parks and Recreation” (2.0/5, 4.36m), and CW’s rookie hit “The Vampire Diaries” still looked good in its return (1.6/4, 3.68m).

In the 9 p.m. drama battle, ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy” finished on top in demos (4.7/12, 12.70m), but both it and CBS’ “CSI” (3.1/8, 14.29m) were low while Fox’s “Fringe” was above average (2.6/7, 6.90m).

Of note at 10 p.m., where ABC’s “Private Practice” (3.6/10 in 18-49, 9.64 million viewers overall) prevailed in demos and CBS’ “The Mentalist” (3.1/8, 14.56m) led in total viewers, MTV’s runaway reality hit “Jersey Shore” finished its first season with impressive series records (2.6/7 in 18-49, 4.83m). It was up 30% from the show’s prior high the week before and more than tripled the number for its series debut in December.

Following the telecast, “Jersey Shore: The Reunion” drew 4 million viewers who wanted to be kept up to date on the activities of new celebrities Snooki and Co.

And at USA, “Burn Notice” (1.9/5 in 18-49, 5.35m) kicked off the winter premiere of its third season with good numbers, well ahead of NBC’s “The Jay Leno Show” (1.4/4, 4.45m).

Friday’s two-hour fund-raising event “Hope for Haiti Now” averaged roughly 16.1 million viewers on ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox and CW. Nielsen was expected to release final cume numbers for the show, which also aired on numerous cable channels, Monday.

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